I’ll just preface this with a disclaimer: These meals are not all made from scratch – there are packets mixes and premade stocks galore. I’m not ashamed.
With Winter closing in and the darkness fully upon us, I find myself craving all the comfort foods; warming, filling, familiar & delicious. I’m one of those people that can’t go into a supermarket when i’m hungry – I’ll just buy all the things …. and more. I panicked this morning because I’ve only got one paycheck ’til Christmas (44 sleeps..not that we’re counting) so I decided to budget to the max this November.
I’m not a budgeting kind of girl, that’s Keren’s department – she’s a budgeting queen! But I thought I’d give it a go. Now, my husband would be happy with 11p Noodles every night, but on a cold Winters eve I’m just not craving Sainsburys basics chicken curry noodles – maybe that makes me picky …
I’ve come up with a week long dinner plan with cheap but delicious Winter staples. One of the things I really hate when searching for recipes, are long and complicated ingredient lists – I don’t care what it’s categorised under, quantity means cash – so these are as simple as they come!
So without further ado I present to you my November meal plan (click on the pictures for links to recipes) –
Honey Mustard Chicken Pot with Parsnips
This is one that I make quite a lot, it’s so simple and the flavours are amazing. Also it’s a really light dish, packed full of protein – we want to save all the heavy eating for Christmas after all! Now I don’t bother with parsley garnish and fresh Thyme sprigs for this, I’m sure it adds to the flavour, but honestly it’s just extra expense. I bought chicken stock on offer that has thyme in already because I’m sneaky like that!
Cost – £4.35
nb. I already had wholegrain mustard, honey & onions in my cupboards if you need to buy these, it’s an extra £2.20 but then you’ve got the two condiments for the next time you inevitably make this, because it’s so freaking good.
Toad in the Hole
So I’ve forewarned you, this puppy ain’t from scratch; 50p batter mix all the way! This is one of the husband’s favourites, he probably has about 3/4s of the pan whenever I make this. It’s so filling but so cheap, the holy grail of Winter eating. I’ve not added a recipe link for this because you just mix up the batter (why not add a generous dollop of the wholegrain mustard you bought for the chicken recipe into the mixture) & pour it over the sausages – cook until golden (35-40mins) and bam! Toad in the Hole in your Mouth.
Cost – £ 1.60
nb. You’ll need eggs for the batter mix, for the 50p mix 3 eggs are needed but if you shell out (geddit…) for a slightly more expensive mix you usually only need one egg! Eggs are something we always have in my house so I go cheap all the way!
Brussel and Bacon Gnocchi
Yes, I know, I’m wierd. I love brussel sprouts, they’re so festive and evocative of Winter and Christmas – love love love ’em. I’ve linked to the simplest recipe I could find, just substitute mushrooms for sprouts and you’re almost there!
This is my recipe verison – Fry those sprouts up in bacony goodness, then when the bacon’s perfect and the sprouts are starting to crisp at the edges, add in some stock (one of the little pots you bought for the first recipe) a splash of milk and a handful of cheese (any self respecting human has cheese in their fridge) any cheese works really; good ol’cheddar, fancy swiss Gruyere or, & this is my favourite – blue cheese. Reduce it down a bit and chuck in the Gnocchi you cooked up earlier, cook for 5-10 minutes until it’s all bubbly and delicious.
Congratulations, you’ve just cooked yourself happy.
Cost – £3.90
nb. doesn’t include cost of cheese or milk
It’s Nacho Chilli ya Turkey
I’m so darn punny. Anyway this is another one that I make slightly differently. You make up the chilli a la the 50p packet mix instructions (seriously packet mixes are a budget girl’s/guy’s friend, embrace them) but sub the beef out for turkey mince, because it’s way more Christmassy and healthier too! Then when the chilli’s bubbling away nearly done, layer some nachos on top (at 50p, these are the only ‘basics’ products in my list, they taste exactly the same!) and sprinkle some cheese over. Bung in the oven to melt and then you’re done, a delicious nacho topped chilli pot. Dip away!
Cost – £5.05
nb. save money in this recipe by going for basics store cupboard foods; I went for fancier tomatoes, kidney beans etc because I’m a poor snob. You really can slash the price of all these recipes by going one cheaper than me, I’m just not that committed to budgeting!
Budget Beef Stew
I promise I’m not a spokesperson for Shwartz, their packet mixes just seem to be on offer all the time atm, so i’m stocking up! On Fridays I like to crack out my slow cooker, but if you don’t have one, this recipe is geared towards oven cooking anyway (if you do have a slow cooker, pop it on low and just leave it all day!) The recipe is so simple & stews are my ultimate Winter food, it’s just a hug in my mouth … that analogy works..
I add dumplings to my stew 30 minutes before i’m ready to eat it –
1. because … dumplings
2. I can’t be phaffing around making mashed potato when there’s sofa snuggling to be done (my favourite thing about stews is the lack of effort required)
3. dumplings are cheaper than potatoes.
Cost – £5.40
nb. the beef is the most expensive thing in this recipe, so again – go basics if you’re brave enough!
Week’s Total Cost for 2 People
Like I said, I didn’t go for the cheapest options every time, but if you need to it’ll slash the price even more!
I hope I’ve given you some budget friendly Winter dinner ideas, now it’s your turn; what are your go to staples for the festive season? LMK in the comments below.
& now that I’ve saved all that money, I think it’s time to start Christmas shopping!
Throwback to the first Christmas dinner I ever made from scratch, you can tell how old it is from the awesome Insta effects! It’s making me excited for all the Christmas cooking that’s coming soon on the site…i’m trying & failing not to get ahead of myself…